The Sorrentine Peninsula, which separates the Gulf of Naples to the north and the Gulf of Salerno to the south, is one of the world’s most photogenic (and photographed!) destinations.
Taking in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Amalfi Coast, as well as the popular towns of Sorrento and Positano, many choose to enjoy the peninsula’s striking vistas by car, with hair raising roads that seemingly spill straight into the sea offering vantage points at every turn.
But as you probably know by now, owing to the region’s huge popularity, those roads are often heaving with traffic and those views obscured by hoards of fellow curious travellers.
Instead, why not take in some of the coast’s most memorable sites by boat, helping you escape the crowds of the mainland and enjoy a trip defined by exclusivity? If you’re planning on hitting the open seas, here are 5 beautiful island sites accessible by boat from Sorrento, Italy.
BLUE GROTTO, CAPRI
Just a thirty minute ferry ride from the town of Sorrento (on the tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula) is the island of Capri, one of Italy’s most stunning spots.
On the northwest of the island and accessible only by rowing boat is Blue Grotto, an incredible sea cave stretching 60 metres with depths reaching 150 metres. The entrance is tiny and to gain access, guests must lay flat on the deck of a tiny rowing boat to pass through the arch which enters the cave.
The view from inside is worth this minor inconvenience, with the Blue Grotto taking its name from the mesmerising refraction of light that happens when sunlight passes through an underwater cavity in the entrance and bathes the entire cave in azure illumination. This one has to be seen to be believed.
I FARAGLIONI, CAPRI
Head to the rugged, untamed southeastern coast of Capri, and just off it, you’ll find I Faraglioni, a collection of three towering rock formations that jut out of the Mediterranean like the sharpened fangs of a sea monster. So iconic are this trio that they’ve each been named; Saetta, which connects to Capri island itself, Stella, featuring a natural arch that forms a tunnel over the sea, and Scopolo, meaning the ‘promontory’ and home to a rare blue lizard.
Though you can see the majestic trio from the vantage points of Monte Solaro (the highest point on the island) or from Marina Piccola, where your ferry from Sorrento will lay anchor, both on Capri, the best way to appreciate I Faraglioni is by private boat. Doing so allows you to go under Stella’s natural arch and engage up close and personal with Saetta and Scopolo, too.
Speaking of private boats, the guys at sorrentoholidaycharter.com recommend chartering a private yacht to experience the islands of Ischia and Procida. This can either be done back on the mainland, in Sorrento, or direct from Capri, as part of a wider yacht excursion.
Both lie around 20 km south of Naples, with Ischia the larger of the two islands. Lush, volcanic and famed for its abundance of thermal spas and natural hot springs, there’s plenty to do here. The highlight is perhaps Aragonese Castle, which sits on its very own islet linked to Ischia by a stone bridge.
Procida, named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022, is a tiny island full of pastel coloured houses, small fishing villages and some superb family run restaurants. But we’re here to step off the beaten path, right? Well, at the southwest tip of the island and across a narrow 100 metre bridge, you’ll find yourself in and amongst wildlife on the islet of Vivara, which is a dedicated nature reserve.
Be warned, aside from a few hiking trails there are no facilities here, just the chance to get immersed in lush vegetation and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding seas. The “Regno di Nettuno” Marine Protected Area, located just off the islet’s southwest shore, is home to the occasional whale and dolphin sighting.
There are also opportunities to go diving here, at Secca delle Formiche, one of the Mediterranean’s most popular diving spots. Even if you don’t see any whales, below the surface you’ll find red coral, Alcyonacea, octopus and lobster.
LI GALLI ISLANDS
Finally, we’re heading to the Li Galli islands in the Gulf of Salerno, 6 km south of Positano. Also known as Sirenuse, the archipelago’s name references the mythical sirens featured in Homer’s Odyssey. In the past, it is said that the sirens dwelled here, too.
We can see why they called these three islets (Gallo Lungo, La Rotonda, and Isola Dei Briganti) home; their rugged beauty is untouched by the trappings of tourism found on the mainland.
Though all three are privately owned by Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Russo and inaccessible to anyone but his guests, you can enjoy views of these mythical islets from onboard your private boat. Just remember to pack your earplugs!